Yesterday, King County Executive Ron Sims' staff says, 126 people were told they would be laid off as part of efforts to make up the more than $93 million deficit facing the county's general fund--which includes things like the courts, sheriff's office, and some public health programs and clinics. An additional 129 vacant positions will be axed, says spokeswoman Carolyn Duncan.
There's also the matter of the lifeboat. It's a stopgap Sims came up with for a collection of general fund programs, including mental health court and two community clinics, that will be shut down on June 30, 2009 if a list of legislative agenda items don't get passed in Olympia. If those programs go six months into 2009, Duncan says, an additional 111 people will be laid off, and another 24 vacant jobs will go.
But that's not all that's on the line, according to an e-mail sent out last night to union employee members. In order to make his budget work and keep everything that wasn't axed right from the get go or floated in the lifeboat, Sims needs union employees to agree to a 3 percent cost of living raise. Under their contracts, they are entitled to a 5.5 percent raise. According to the e-mail, sent by a representative of the King County Coalition of Unions, Sims office also claims to have the legal authority to force all union members to take up to two weeks unpaid leave.
If the members don't agree to the shorter pay raise and forcing two-weeks off doesn't pass legal muster, the e-mail says, another 120 more represented employees may get pink slips on Jan. 1, 2009.